Happy Teacher Series: Dealing with Stress

Teaching is stressful, but it doesn't have to be as bad as we make it. Try these 4 proven tips to be on your way to happier teaching!
Teaching is stressful. There is no arguing that point, and if you would like to I have a classroom with 25 nine year olds that were just given cupcakes to introduce you to. There are so many parts of the job that can make us want to hide, and spoiler alert the kids with cupcakes are rarely one of them. Instead teachers are given what seems like an unending list of tasks to do, paperwork to complete, and then there is the actual teaching. 

While we can't really help that teaching is stressful, there is a definite difference in the way that a happy teacher handles stress versus a teacher that is feeling burnt out. The truth of the matter is that happy teachers choose to put themselves and their health first, and when you consider every situation through that lens the stress becomes a little easier to deal with. 

No two people, or teachers, relieve stress in the exact same way, but there are a few tried and true methods that pretty much everyone can agree on. 

Happy Teachers Exercise

If you can make the time to exercise you are really getting a double whammy. Exercise is taking time for yourself, keeping yourself healthy, plus it just feels good to sweat it out sometimes. Trust me, even when I am feeling at my absolute worst, if I make myself work out I always feel a bit better afterwards. 

Find a routine that you can stick to. For me, it is group work out classes because they are fun, and once you meet a few people if you aren't there at your regular times they ask about you. The accountability is key and will keep you coming back. I joined a regular old gym that I liked the classes at, and it has done wonders for my waist line and mental health. 

After exercising is when I feel at my best. I am ready to take on whatever comes my way. I also tend to let thoughts that are bothering me simmer just a bit during a workout, and often I think of something to try. Some people make breakthroughs while showing, for me it is while I am sweating.  


Teaching is stressful, but it doesn't have to be as bad as we make it. Try these 4 proven tips to be on your way to happier teaching!Happy Teachers Take a Break

If you are able to stop what you are doing when you are most stressed and take a break it can be a life-saver. Not all situations allow for this, so use breaks with caution, but giving yourself some time to think and formulate a plan rather than going full steam ahead when completely overwhelmed is worth the wait. 

Often by gaining a little bit of distance between yourself and a stressful situation you can find some composure and are ready to tackle the problem later. 

For me, parent emails where the tone was a bit tough were some of the biggest stressors I have ever faced. I always felt that I needed to respond right in the moment when my feelings were strong and I might have lost a bit of my professional filter. Instead I learned to walk away, think about how I wanted to response, and come back to it later. This doesn't mean that I would let the email sit in my inbox until it started growing wildflowers, but I would wait an hour or two and gain some perspective. 

Side note: I also learned that when I received what I felt was an email with a harsh tone it was about a million times better to pick up the phone and have a conversation rather than respond by email, and this is coming from a person that dies a little inside every time they have to make a phone call. 

Happy Teachers Use the Buddy System

One of the absolute best things about being a teacher is the colleagues. We are one great bunch, and even more than being amazing people we are fantastic listeners and problem solvers. If you are feeling overwhelmed then find a buddy and talk it out. 

At the least you will find a sympathetic companion, and sometimes all we need to know is that others are feeling the pressure too. I am willing to bet though, that more often than no your buddy will have just the idea that you need to get through. A fresh set of eyes on a situation always offers a new perspective. 

Using the buddy system will also let you know when you are being irrational about something that is stressing you out. Sometimes we get caught up in the minutiae of teaching, and need to be told that worrying about a tiny detail is not time well spent, because we can't always do it for ourselves. 

Teaching is stressful, but it doesn't have to be as bad as we make it. Try these 4 proven tips to be on your way to happier teaching!Happy Teachers Remember
That They Are Only Human

Sometimes it is hard for us as teachers to remember that we are mere mortals. I mean our students worship us, so our heads can get a little fuzzy on the idea. It is okay to take a step back and say that is enough for today or it is okay to not be perfect. We don't have to be all the things all the time for all the people try as we might.

For me, learning to accept imperfections within the classroom was one of the hardest lessons for me to learn.  I had the worst time not redoing items that had a smudge or practicing my handwriting when both of these things were trivial, had no effect on my students, and really just stressed me out more. Talk about lose-lose.

It wasn't until I was able to tell myself that I could only do so much and stopped pretending to have it all together that I was able to flourish as a teacher. I spent more time on what mattered and less time, if any, on the things that didn't. This also allowed me to rediscover some hobbies I had before teaching.

For more ideas on how to be happier as a teacher check out 11 Things Happy Teachers Don't Do.

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